Since my recent post in which I shared my frustration with all the negativity surrounding early motherhood, I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the FLOOD of encouraging comments, Facebook messages, emails, text messages and in-person encounters–all assuring me of the beauty of motherhood. To those of you who took the time to contact me for this reason, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your lovely words were medicine for my mind and spirit, which, at the time, were ill at ease.
While I loved every single message I received in response to the post, my favorites were that of my mother (you can read it here), and this one from a dear sweet friend named Andrea Wheeler. Andrea is the stay-at-home, homeschooling, godly mother of five, who has always inspired me in countless ways. Her little children (all under the age of 9) love the Lord and serve Him gladly, obey their parents without argument, respect everyone they encounter, and are simply a joy to be around. While I could never hope to be as good a parent as Andrea and her good husband Jon, her advice gives me hope and motivates determination. I’m sharing it here (with her permission) because perhaps it can do the same for you:
I thought I’d pass along a few thoughts. Feel free to delete the entire email, or take what helps and leave the rest.Honestly, with five (pregnancies, births, babies) children, I still don’t feel like a “seasoned mother”. Maybe that feeling comes with hindsight?I LOVE being a mom! It is the BEST JOB EVER.Yes, the hours are a bit long, and it is messy work , but what person with a really great job can’t say the same?We live in a culture (and it has seeped into the church) where our values are upside down. My OBGYN is fabulous. But she works all the time and her kids are raised by a live-in nanny. The nanny even goes on their family vacations, to look after the kids. Isn’t that heartbreaking? But if you ask anyone, she is VERY successful (and I am not).Women LOVE to talk birth. Mine were easy. FUN! It was the most EXCITING day imaginable, and it never gets old. The nurses fuss at me for getting too excited, as it raises my blood pressure. It is wonderful!! There is pain (it is bearable) and there is discomfort, but you get to have a BABY. You get to SEE that sweet baby- your husband’s eyes and your grandfather’s hairline…The fact that people dread it is hard for me to fathom.Even if you are one of the few with a horrible birth experience, it is ONE day, opening up on a lifetime of joy! My experience has always involved a lot of chatting and laughing, but I like it a little more quiet when the labor gets intense. Epidurals are my preference, and I have truly enjoyed every minute of every birth. The nurse turned my epidural off at the end with Emily. Even that wasn’t too bad.I sleep, nap and rest more AFTER babies, than I do before. Every mama, grandma and husband will encourage you to rest- and you should! It is an expected period of rest. (I am not a napper and I have to MAKE myself nap).You may be completely exhausted, but you won’t mind getting up at night. You will savor every moment. And all of my babies slept 4-6 hour stretches. Even with five kids, I can sneak in a nap. Jon and I have always wanted our babies with us, and we have “dated” more during those post-pardum days. Newborns sleep through everything. Nursing in a dark theater is a piece of cake. And you will quickly figure out their “pattern” and know when to run out for a bit, when you need a break. Even today, with FIVE children, I have more people offer to babysit than I’ll ever use. My kids are a joy and I LOVE having them with me (most days). We have a few close friends and family that we will leave the kids with. We’ll drop them all of and sneak off for a quiet dinner, movie, walk around the garden center, etc. We enjoy our time together, and come back anxious to see our brood.We put our kids to bed pretty early. This allows us to watch a movie, eat a snack, or just spend a couple of hours together in the evening.I expected to love our baby. I expected Jon to love our baby. What I did not expect was the extreme joy of watching Jon love and cherish our baby. It is simply breathtaking. You will be shocked at how your love for Ben will grow, with the addition of this sweet babe.I think finding the joy in motherhood comes down to perspective. I have spells of feeling smothered and overwhelmed. I resent getting out of the bathtub to deal with conflict and I become frustrated with extra laundry. When it comes down to it, I find that the root of my “funk” is selfishness. It slips in slowly, but it takes a hold. When I refocus on my goals- on raising these sweet blessings- it becomes joy. It doesn’t make it easy, but it is joyful work. I think most people miss the fact that motherhood is goal-oriented work. If it is a job of drippy noses and dirty floors, why would anyone want to be a mother? But it is about little hearts and minds, and training and teaching. It is about building the foundation for the rest of their lives. And you will be richly rewarded with giggles and wet kisses and a heart that swells with joy!I often have people stop me and say “I couldn’t stand being home with my kids all day”. And I think, “I wouldn’t want to be home all day with just any children…”. My kids are a joy to be around. We have hard days and rough patches and we are constantly working on something, but training produces results.Your children will be a delight!